Police: Priests attacked at Phoenix church, 1 dies
PHOENIX (AP) — A priest was shot and killed and another was injured at a Roman Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, setting off an intense search for suspects and clues.
The surviving priest called 911 to report a burglary at the Mother of Mercy Mission near the state Capitol around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and administered last rites to the wounded clergyman while waiting for police to arrive. The Rev. Kenneth Walker died at the hospital, and the Rev. Joseph Terra, 56, is hospitalized in critical condition with unspecified injuries.
Police have no suspects at this point. They are searching the neighborhood, interviewing the injured priest and examining physical evidence from the scene. Investigators said they are unsure how many attackers were involved and if robbery was the motive.
Police Chief Daniel Garcia called it a “tragic and appalling criminal violation.”
As police investigated the crime scene at the church, about a dozen parishioners gathered across the street, kneeling on the sidewalk and saying the Lord’s Prayer in response to the loss of their beloved clergyman. A bouquet of flowers and a photograph of the dead priest lay on the sidewalk.
Parishioner Diane Harmon sobbed as she spoke of Walker and Terra and the “senseless acts of cruelty” that were carried out.
Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission, church members, from left, Kirsten Duarte, her mother Theresa Duarte, and Mary Langlois, cry while listening to Phoenix Police during a news conference on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Police say one priest was shot to death and another is injured after an attack at the church in downtown Phoenix. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix on Thursday identified the slain priest as the Rev. Kenneth Walker and the injured priest as the Rev. Joseph Terra.